Columbia University

Technology Ventures

Antioxidant in the Treatment and Prevention of Lung Disease

Technology #1999

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Studies show Inactivating Inflammatory Molecules may slow the disease. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease caused by cigarette use. It is the fourth leading cause of death in America and has 11.4 million affected adults. Approximately $20.9 billion is spent annually on COPD treatment. COPD has a poor prognosis since no treatment (short of lung transplant) can stop its progression. COPD is thought to be caused by chronic inflammation mediated by the immune system. Macrophages are thought to infiltrate in response to toxins (environmental or cigarette borne) and secrete chemoattractants, which results in recruitment of neutrophils and a pro-inflammatory cascade. Over time, neutrophil secretions result in remodeling of the lung tissue, leading to emphysema and airway fibrosis. Recent insights into the mechanism of COPD indicate inactivating inflammatory molecules may slow the disease.

Bioactive Compounds for COPD Treatment and Cancer Therapies

Novel bioactive compounds were isolated from a common Brazilian medicinal plant, the jaboticaba (Myrciaria cauliflora). They included the depside jaboticabin (methyl 2-[(3,4-dihydroxybenzoyloxy)-4,6-dihydroxyphenyl]acetate) and a related depside, 2-O-(3,4-dihydroxybenzoyl)-2,4,6-trihydroxyphenylacetic acid. In addition, two anthrocyanins were identified. All four compounds were tested in a model of lung epithelial inflammation, and found to have potent anti-inflammatory effects. Specifically, the compounds were found to directly reduce the inflammatory chemokine, interleukin 8 (IL-8). These compounds could be the first drugs used to treat the underlying cause of COPD due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, preliminary studies show the compounds isolated have high antioxidant properties, and may even be useful in cancer therapies.


-Small molecular inhibitors of inflammation for COPD patients, as a prophylactic and therapeutic drug.

-Use could extend to any inflammatory disease or autoimmune pathology.

-Jaboticaba plant extracts could be used as prophylactic treatment for various diseases, including cancer, as many studies have already shown similar compounds in other fruits reduce risk of disease.


-COPD does not respond to steroidal treatments and bronchodialitors in current use do not prevent progression, thus, this technology fills a unique niche by potentially reversing COPD.

-Indigenous South Americans have historically used the jaboticaba fruit for food and medicine, so the depsides and anthocyanins identified may be well tolerated by humans.

-Small molecule inhibition of inflammation is easier to deliver than competing antibody based method being developed by other companies.

-The novel depsides may prove to be broadly effective against other inflammatory diseases through a unique mechanism of action.